Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Quarterly, Winter 1992 (24)

I just picked up Q 24 for a quarter, so I read it. I didn't get Wayne Hogan's cartoons at all. I enjoy short fiction, but reading the whole collection at once is like bingeing on chocolates. The best stories were the two near the beginning, by Gary Lutz. Incredibly bleak, but so believably real. Perfect snapshots of the worst, dreariest reality of being human. Some of the poetry was a little cute, I thought. I don't think this magazine is around anymore, as I can't find it on the web, or even back issues on amazon. Just a random mystery book.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex. I stayed up all night reading this book. It's a rambling, multi-generational, transcontinental book about an intersexual person named Calliope (later Cal). He was raised as a girl but is genetically male (he has 5-alpha-reductase deficiency; here's a link to the wikipedia article). It begins as an omniscient narration of the events that lead to cal's conception, beginning with the story of her grandparents life in a village in Turkey. They were Greeks who fled as refugees from the destruction of Smyrna. - the second book this summer that I've read that featured that event. Also oddly enough, the second book that included brother-sister incest. But any details or summary I give about this book will not do it justice - it is simply too large and ranging for me to get a concise little picture down about it. Anyway, it was riveting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Daniel Pinkwater

Daniel Pinkwater. I know and love this author from his children's books and his readings of children's literature on npr with Scott Simon. Boingboing led me to his new serialized fiction, The Neddiad.

Monday, July 17, 2006

a blog i wish was mine....

well it is a neat-o science blog!


I'm not quite sure what to think, but I am greatly enjoying reading through all the archives.....

matt- read this bit on that song that has been played a few times in our house, and here's another

Friday, July 14, 2006

Philip Roth

The Human Stain. Books that deal with the touchy subject of race always- oh yeah - sorry Bredon - I'll introduce the book first:
This is a book about a disgraced east-coast professor of classical literature, Coleman Silk. It's narrated by an author who is largely an observer and interpreter (a la Nick Carraway), a neighbor who befriends the professor. The story's set in 1998 at the height of the big blow job scandal (repeatedly mentioned throughout) and is something like an end of the century Scarlet Letter. Professor Silk is having a passionate and secretive affair with an illiterate and abused younger woman. That's all the plot rehash I'm going into.
Anyway, Roth knows how to hit all the hot buttons: race, Vietnam, abuse, anal sex.... If it's a touchy subject, he hit it (although oddly, only an oblique reference to homosexuality). Therefore, I do not recommend this book to my mother! The only thing I found hard to read were the false accusations - for some reason I find those excruciating even in children's cartoons. I have to say that Roth is a master, and he writes about ideas without preaching. Even though I felt this book was a little dated in its focus I'm going to read the rest of his books to get a more solid feel for his writing.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine

Last Chance To See: I tried as hard as I could to read this slowly because I didn't want to finish it. Unfortunately this was impossible, thanks to the well known Adams paradox. I often hate to read books about conservation or endangered ecosystems because they are mind-numbingly depressing and infuriating - it's not that I don't care, but that I can't bear to think about it. The last five minutes of any nature video or show are always like that; that's when they show the remaining sliver of habitat getting bulldozed and the last breeding pair carried off by some poverty-stricken poacher. Anyway, Adams managed to avoid this incredible sadness for the most part, while still conveying urgency. Hilarious as always, and really interesting, especially about island ecosystems and evolution. I almost peed my pants reading about the Kakapo mating.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Martha Grimes

The Old Wine Shades. As usual, a fun convoluted mystery with a familiar and funny cast and a hazy ending. The usual children and dogs are found, as well as a bit of vague quantum physics and wine drinking. I think she is a little sick of her own series, and they are starting to repeat themselves. But the thing is, Martha Grimes when not at her best is still phenomenal; I really enjoyed this book-completely farfetched as it was. I loved the parts about plays within a plays, and nested stories like Russian dolls. Grimes has a gift for hilarious dialogue and dry (or not) humor that makes me snort in public. But she's still writing the same book over and over again; it's a book I like, but I know she can do so much better. My guess is she's continuing to write the Jury novels for a steady paycheck, but it's the non-Jury books that she pours her heart into now (Foul Matter, Hotel Paradise, etc...). It is fairly endearing that she pokes fun at herself with the two pot-boiler novelists that are bit players in the Jury books.